Elon Musk Can Use Twitter Whistleblower Allegations in Case But Can’t Delay Trial, Judge Rules

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On September 7, a judge ruled that Elon Musk can use Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko’s allegations in his legal case against the social media platform. Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of Delaware’s Court of Chancery, however, will not allow Musk to delay the trial, according to Reuters.

Musk has been embroiled in a legal battle with Twitter since he backed out of a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion. According to The Washington Post, in May, Musk tweeted that the potential deal “was on hold pending a review of Twitter’s claims on spam and fake accounts…By July, Musk filed to terminate the deal over concerns relating to Twitter’s tallying of bot and spam profiles, which Musk alleges vastly underestimates the true number of inauthentic accounts. Twitter sued Musk alleging breach of contract days later. Musk filed a countersuit in late July.”

Central to Zatko’s whistleblower disclosures about safety issues at Twitter are the issue of bot accounts on the platform: he “alleges egregious security deficiencies and ineffective methods for counting bots,” according to the Post article. Because Musk cited concerns about bot accounts on Twitter as a reason for backing out of the $44 billion deal, many experts theorized that Musk would want to use the new allegations from Zatko, Twitter’s former head of security. On August 29, Musk subpoenaed Zatko and requested “documents and communications on the company’s spam and alleged security vulnerabilities,” according to a Reuters article.

Reuters reports that in her decision to disallow Musk to delay the trial, Chancellor McCormick said, “I am convinced that even four weeks’ delay would risk further harm to Twitter.” She affirmed that “the trial will start next month.”

“We are hopeful that winning the motion to amend takes us one step closer to the truth coming out in that courtroom,”Alex Spiro, an attorney for Musk, said in a statement. Musk’s legal team argued that they wanted more time to examine Zatko’s whistleblower allegations and for the trial to be delayed.

“We look forward to presenting our case in court beginning on Oct. 17th and intend to close the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk,” a Twitter spokesman said in a statement.

According to Reuters, on September 7, “McCormick ordered Musk and Jared Birchall, who helps manage Musk’s wealth, to obtain and turn over phone records to allow Twitter to confirm that Musk did not text about the deal during key periods, as Musk has claimed.” She “said there had been ‘glaring deficiencies’ in the text messages that Musk has provided to Twitter in the litigation.”

At a hearing on September 6, a lawyer for Twitter “read a message from Musk that came to light during the litigation that the lawyer said showed the billionaire was not actually concerned about spam accounts,” Reuters reports. According to the article, in May “Musk sent a message to a Morgan Stanley banker…that read ‘it won’t make sense to buy Twitter if we’re heading into World War III.’”

Read the Reuters article here.

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